Sri Lanka: Recruitment agencies allegedly force female domestic workers to take contraceptives to secure work in the Gulf

Author: Sophie Cousins, The Guardian, Published on: 19 April 2018

"Recruiters order Sri Lankan women to take birth control before working in Gulf", 6 April 2018

Sri Lankan women who take up domestic work in the Middle East...are being targeted by recruitment agents who order them to take contraceptives before leaving. Six recruiters licensed by the Sri Lankan government said they could provide an employer with a “three-month guarantee” that a maid would not become pregnant... While no women were prepared to speak openly about being forced to take contraceptives, the Guardian found that many recruitment agencies make migrant workers take Depo-Provera, an injectable contraceptive that lasts for three months... Rahini Bhaskaran, coordinator of Migrants Network, a migrant rights organisation, believes the contraceptive serves a double purpose: covering up potential sexual assaults by recruitment agents and serving as a guarantee to prospective employers in the Gulf that workers will not get pregnant...Typically single, divorced or widowed, or married to men who are no longer able to work, the women are victims of a growing pattern of abuse and coercion by agents and employers... Rothna Begum, women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, said: “Migrant domestic workers in the Gulf are treated as commodities by agencies and employers to the extent that their bodies and their choices are no longer theirs at the point of migration."

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